Visit our new website:

Two Mother Nature Activists Freed From Jail in Cambodia

  • Wed, 14 Feb 2018 07:25

Two Cambodian environmental activists who had received one-year jail sentences, partly suspended, for charges arising from photographing the controversial practice of commercial sand dredging, were released from prison on Wednesday.

Activists Dim Kundy and Hun Vannak had been detained since Sept. 12, 2017, in Koh Kong province on charges of inciting others to “commit crimes” and violations of privacy.

The pair were taken into custody while taking photos of dredging operations along the Cambodian coast carried out by a firm linked to the ruling Cambodian People’s Party.

The activists' NGO, Mother Nature, formally disbanded days after the arrests, citing harassment and pressure on staff from Cambodian authorities.

Speaking to RFA’s Khmer Service following their release, Dim Kundy and Hun Vannak criticized the court’s actions against them and vowed to continue their work protecting Cambodia’s environment in spite of the risk of further arrests.

“Illegal sand dredging still continues, and sand continues to be exported,” Dim Kundy told RFA.

“We will continue to monitor these illegal activities in Koh Kong and across Cambodia, and we will continue to work against the destruction of natural resources,” he said, naming threats posed by deforestation, mining, and dam construction in Cambodia.

“There is no way we can avoid harassment by the authorities, and they can arrest us anytime they want. We have the support of our people to continue our work.”

“We believe in our work. We believe in our supporters,” added Hun Vannak. “We have noted that against all odds, the number of environmental activists [in Cambodia] is growing.”

“More and more people are aware of the environment,” he said.

Suspended sentences, fines

On Jan. 26, the Koh Kong Trial Court sentenced Dim Kundy and Hun Vannak to a year’s imprisonment and fines of 1 million riel (U.S. $ 250). But the court suspended or waived seven months, leaving them with five months in prison, with credit for time served since mid-September.

The activists’ families and supporters, who were present in court when the verdict was announced, rejected the sentences as unjust, but said with the men's release likely in two weeks, they were not contemplating an appeal.

Registered with Cambodian authorities in 2013, Mother Nature had worked over the years to protect Cambodia’s environment, exposing irregularities in Cambodia’s trade in dredged sand with foreign countries and helping villagers organize to protect their land.

Mother Nature founder Alejandro Gonzalez Davidson, who has been based in Spain since he was expelled from Cambodia in 2015, had predicted that the activists would not stand a chance in a court system under heavy influence from local tycoons and politicians.

Reported by RFA’s Khmer Service. Translated by Nareth Muong. Written in English by Richard Finney.

RFA Home


Daily Deal

Related Stories

Malaysian artist jailed for mocking Prime Minister Najib Razak
  • Tue, 20 Feb 2018 22:10

Fahmi Reza's caricature depicts Najib Razak as a clown and went viral during protests against him. BBC News - Asia

German on International Mother Language Day
  • Tue, 20 Feb 2018 21:22

German is the native tongue of more than 100 million people in the EU. Worldwide, some 14.5 million people speak German as a foreign language. To mark...

Rights of Muslim women suffer under Malaysia’s ambition to become Islamic state
  • Tue, 20 Feb 2018 21:13

A REVIEW of women’s rights in Malaysia at the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) determined that wom...

Singapore promises not to cane suspected bank robber if UK sends him back to face trial
  • Tue, 20 Feb 2018 20:21

Singapore has agreed not to cane a man accused of carrying out a rare bank robbery in the city state if Britain extradites him to face charges, offici...

Activists: 98 dead in assault on rebel-held Damascus suburb
  • Tue, 20 Feb 2018 18:33

Syrian activists, paramedics say 98 people were killed in government shelling of rebel-held Damascus suburbs on Monday ABC News: International

The iPhone Is Losing Out to Chinese Devices in Asia
  • Tue, 20 Feb 2018 18:09

The iPhone X’s steep price opens the door to cheaper options in Asian markets, and Chinese smartphone brands Xiaomi, Oppo and Vivo are grabbing mark...

New Zealand investigates claims of Chinese link to break-ins at academic’s office and home
  • Tue, 20 Feb 2018 17:09

New Zealand’s prime minister has ordered the country’s security agencies to investigate a university professor’s claims that burglar...

Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir deliver stunning performance to snatch Olympic gold from French ice dancers
  • Tue, 20 Feb 2018 16:37

Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir mesmerized the crowd in Pyeongchang with their gold-medal-winning free dance. The Georgia Straight

Winter Olympics: Elizabeth Swaney the 'best' and worst' Olympian
  • Tue, 20 Feb 2018 15:20

Elizabeth Swaney made it to the Olympics via a loophole; hilarious and inspirational or just unfair? BBC News - Asia

Phillip Island WorldSBK test: Camier finds fast pace from the off
  • Tue, 20 Feb 2018 14:36

Camier trails reigning WorldSBK champ Rea by three-tenths on day one of WorldSBK testing at Phillip Island Bikesport News - News

Cyril Ramaphosa: from Lonmin mining massacre to President
  • Tue, 20 Feb 2018 14:33

South Africa Thu 15 Feb, AT 11:58 Cyril Ramaphosa: from Lonmin mining massacre to President The new South African leader w...

Good Morning From Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village
  • Tue, 20 Feb 2018 14:28

We’re starting out another week on the Disney Parks Blog with this lovely early morning shot, snapped in the lobby of Disney’s Animal Kingdom ...

News Categories